Germany will pass a law next week obliging kindergartens to inform the authorities if parents fail to provide evidence that they have received advice from their doctor on vaccinating their children, the health ministry said on Friday.
Parents refusing the advice risk fines of up to 2,500 euros ($2,800) under the law expected to come into force on June 1.
Vaccination rules are being tightened across Europe, where a decline in immunization, has caused a spike in diseases such as measles, chicken pox and mumps, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“Nobody can be indifferent to the fact that people are still dying of measles,” German health minister Hermann Groehe told Bild newspaper. “That’s why we are tightening up regulations on vaccination.”
Italy made vaccination compulsory this month after health officials warned that a fall-off in vaccination rates had triggered a measles epidemic, with more than 2,000 cases there this year, almost ten times the number in 2015.
Lack of public trust in vaccines has become an important global health issue. Experts say negative attitudes may be due to fears over suspected side-effects and hesitancy among some doctors.
In 10 European countries, cases of measles, which can cause blindness and encephalitis, had doubled in number in the first two months of 2017 compared to the previous year, the ECDC said last month.
That is leading to greater activism among parents and public health officials. Last week, a German court ruled that a father could insist that his child be vaccinated over the objections of the child’s mother because it was in the child’s interest.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Louise Ireland)